INTERVIEW: North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley, gives his views on fracking, HS2 and greenbelt

MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, at the proposed fracking site in Marsh Lane.
MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, at the proposed fracking site in Marsh Lane.

The newly-elected MP for North East Derbyshire, Lee Rowley, says he is opposed to fracking in Marsh Lane - but is ‘not going to rule out fracking in principle’.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Derbyshire Times, the Conservative MP talked fracking, HS2, building on greenbelt land and why Prime Minister Theresa May was right to call the snap election and why she has his full support.

On the proposal by chemical firm Ineos to carry out fracking at the Bramley Moor Lane site in Marsh Lane, near Eckington, Mr Rowley said: “On the specific Marsh Lane application that is the wrong application in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It is the wrong application because I think that by any stretch of the imagination that part of Marsh Lane, a rural community, a small village, next to a beautiful set of fields, that is not where we want a significant amount of industrial equipment which would come with fracking.

“I am going to oppose it and I am going to put my own objections against it to Derbyshire County Council and I am supporting the residents in anyway I can on that.”

And on fracking in general, he said: “I am willing to look at fracking long term and to look at new ways of producing energy long term if they can be proven to be safe and efficient and effective for the country. I am not going to rule out fracking in principle and if other communities want to do fracking it is not for me to tell whether they can or can’t.

Mr Rowley, who is the first Conservative MP in North East Derbyshire since 1935 after Labour’s Natascha Engel was edged out, went on to say that he is ‘pleased’ the new proposed HS2 route in North East Derbyshire has been changed and that it is a ‘positive step forward’.

The 36-year-old, who is set to officially open his new office in Eckington in the next few weeks, also said the other big issue in North East Derbyshire is building on greenbelt land.

“We have got a substantial number of speculative applications coming now,” he said.

“The first question I asked in the House of Commons was about Ashover who are being bombarded with multiple applications for building lots of houses in parts of Ashover which are not entirely inappropriate. And then we also have a new one in Wingerworth in the last few weeks and Tupton with hundreds of houses proposed for Coupe Lane. We have got proposals across the district which residents are concerned about.”

Looking back at June, Mr Rowley, who was born in Hasland and the son of a milkman, said that the Prime Minister was right to call the election.

He said: “We have got to think about the message that was sent and I can see that the Prime Minister has been doing that in the last few weeks but she was right to call the election. She absolutely has my full support.”